L'EDITORIALE / Lorenzo Robustelli
Direttore di Eunews      

Political activity cannot be measured (only) by button pushing

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Time for elections, time for rankings. Especially in Italy, articles and comments based on how many time Italian MEPs participated the votes at the European Parliament dominate the Italian stage. What’s their position in the ranking, and how they compare with their peers, are other aspects of particular interest in Italy. Yet, it is like calculating the productivity of a surgeon specialised in heart transplants with the same criteria used for a physician on shift for triage: a single surgery made could take up to 12 hours, the same amount of time in which the physician can visit 12 patients every hour.

When I was young, at school, they told me that it is not possible to count pears and apples: true, indeed. For instance, measuring parliamentary activity. How many rankings have you seen in Italy taking into account the presences of MPs? Sometimes, someone says something…if there’s an MP who never shows up then he is stigmatized; but this is not the way in which you should judge political or institutional activities. I dare saying those voting at the parliament are not those making the most part of the work. I even dare saying that being at the Parliament when acts to be voted are a “no match” – when there’s no tension, no discussion – could mean a loss of time.

Otherwise we’d have to say Iva Zanicchi worked more, and especially better, than Roberto Gualtieri. Going by memory here, on purpose. I cannot remember a single political act by the former singer, now a politician. Well, I remember her singing a couple of times here in Brussels, yet I cannot recall a single report, assessment, a single political initiative. Roberto Gualtieri – a MEP I met just once, at dinner, with dozens participants, just to be clear – was incredibly active. He worked on significant reports for this parliamentary term, for instance those concerning the economic issues related to the crisis, or those linked to the organization of the External Service. He is to leave a substantial mark on the term. Yet, he ranks 155th for presences (that is a respectable position, 92.3 percent of the votes) while Iva Zanicchi ranks 89th (94.31 percent). Be present is more remunerative: if your presence amounts to less than 50 percent – as per Ciriaco De Mita – you lose your transfer expenses allowance. However, if MEPs spent their time sitting on their chair and voting only (sometimes just following their parties’ indications without “self-awareness”) they would be as useful as a woodpecker taught how to push a button. If a MEP concurs to create the report he is voting, though, he could push the button having performed a much more influential activity.

For sure Italian MEPs have a low presence rate, in general (twenty-fourth country out of twenty-eight Member States), yet it is necessary to verify the quality of the work done. No surprise if we consider that candidates are chosen (both on the left and on the right) on the basis of principles that are completely unrelated to their knowledge of European issues. They are chosen just to get votes, or because they are part of the “old good ones” to whom it is impossible to say no. Italian MEPs ranking is depressing, however it wouldn’t be correct to say they all are politically apathetic. We’d better call for parties to verify the candidates they chose, in order to avoid the “surprise” of discovering we have almost no influence on the European stage – as a country, I mean, not as individuals, who do not deserve to be all put into the hotchpotch of usual absentees.



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